What a duel of league-leading goal scorers the fans at Montreal’s Stade Saputo were treated to last night.
Jack McInerney on one side; the young Philadelphia Union scoring sensation came into last night’s meeting of Eastern Conference opponents as Major League Soccer’s leading scorer, carrying eight goals.
And Italian veteran Marco Di Vaio on the other side; the Montreal Impact striker was tied with two others for second place, with six goals.
Both left with a share of the league lead, each with nine goals.
It was Di Vaio with the big share in Montreal’s 5-3 win, the league’s highest scoring match this year.
Said Di Vaio: “We needed to win to stay near the top of the standings. It’s been a long time that I haven’t scored three goals, so it’s good for my confidence, but even more so, I’m always pleased to help the team win. I’m not looking at winning the scoring title. I look at scoring goals to help my team win and make the playoffs.”
Di Vaio’s three goals all came in the first half, matching a league record. Three goals in a half has happened 32 times previously in MLS … so, not exactly “rare,” but hardly commonplace either.
Mike Magee has Major League Soccer’s only other hat trick this season. He was with the LA Galaxy at the time, but was just traded to Chicago.
The highlights from last night at chilly Stade Saputo:
The United States takes on Costa Rica in a friendly tonight at Red Bull Arena, as the USMNT must put the Mexico match behind them and focus on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
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The biggest inclusion in tonight’s starting XI is that of Tim Howard in goal, marking his return to the national side after taking a self-imposed sabbatical. It will be Howard’s first appearance for the USMNT since his legendary performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.
Klinsmann has chosen to go with a 4-4-2 tonight, and Geoff Cameron remains the only starter in the back-line from the Mexico match. He’ll partner with Michael Orozco in the center of defense, with Brad Evans and Tim Ream on the outsides.
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In the midfield, Klinsmann has put some speed on the wings through the likes of DeAndre Yedlin and recent call-up Brek Shea. Danny Williams joins Jermaine Jones as the central midfielders.
Up top, Jozy Altidore will play alongside Gyasi Zardes, who returns to his more comfortable position as forward.
Cristiano Ronaldo has added another trophy to the collection, winning his fourth Golden Boot as Europe’s top scorer for the 2014-15 season.
The award accounts for goals in league play only, which means the Champions League and domestic tournaments are not included. In La Liga, Ronaldo scored 48 goals in 35 appearances.
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Ronaldo first won the award after the 2007-08 season with Manchester United, and has now added three more with Real Madrid in 2010-11, 2013-14, and 2014-15.
With his fourth win, Ronaldo moves ahead of Lionel Messi as the only player to win the award four times. Messi has won three, while eight players have won two.
Below is a post from Ronaldo’s Facebook page reflecting on the award:
What a special moment in my professional life!
Winning four Golden Boots is a privilege for me and I’ll keep challenging myself because I want to do better every time and I want to keep chasing for more records.
I have to thank everyone in Real Madrid that made this possible and we want to keep winning more titles and more trophies. Thank you everyone.
Ronaldo alone scored more goals in La Liga play last season than 14 clubs did, which shows how prolific his season was. The only player to score more than 48 league goals in a European season was Messi, who scored 50 in 2011-12.
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While it was a successful year for Ronaldo personally, it was a very disappointing campaign for Real Madrid, who fired manager Carlo Ancelotti after finishing the season without a trophy.